It's fair to say we, boxing fans, have been treat especially well to begin the start of May, at least in terms of great match ups. That run continues on May 6th as we get a genuinely brilliant Super Featherweight title fight headlining a title triple header in Japan
The Japanese show is a fiesta of sorts for Watanabe gym who have 2 of their 3 world champions in action whilst another of their fighters attempts to become a world champion and finish their long career with a world title.
The main event here is really mouth watering and will see WBA Super Featherweight “super” champion Takashi Uchiyama (22-0-1, 18) defending his belt for the 10th time. In the opposite corner will be unbeaten Thai Jomthong Chuwatana (9-0, 4), a Muay Thai exponent who has had a very interesting boxing career and shown that his skills can generate genuine success in western boxing. The bout isn't expected to be a “FOTY” style war but technically we may struggle to find a better bout between two heavy handed technicians who are both very capable fighters. This is really, as good as it gets.
In the co-feature Uchiyama's young stablemate Ryoichi Taguchi (21-2-1, 8) looks to make the first defence of his WBA Light Flyweight title. This is another Japan Vs Thailand bout and will see Taguchi battle against Thai veteran Kwanthai Sithmorseng (49-3-1, 26) in a bout that looks really good on paper though is likely to be relatively one sided with Kwanthai not looking like a “world class” fighter in recent years. For a first defense this is acceptable though hopefully Taguchi's next bout comes against a more interesting opponent, such as Ryo Miyazaki or Randy Petalcorin, both of which would be mouth watering bouts.
A third world title bout here will see Kayoko Ebata (8-5, 4) attempt to claim the WBO female Minimumweight title as she battles defending champion Kumiko Seeser Ikehara (6-1-2, 3). The 39 year old Ebata will be in her 4th world title bout and it comes 7 years after her first, a very close and controversial loss to Samson Tor Buamas. As for Ikehara this will be her second defense of the title, though her first was a less than memorable opening round technical draw with Jessebelle Pagaduan back in February.
As well as the 3 bouts which have been mentioned there will be a further 2 on this card, one of which will feature Japanese ranked Light Flyweight Takumi Suda (11-10-2, 3) who will be risking his ranking against Yoshinori Wakahara (7-4, 4).
As well as the Japanese card there will also be a show in Thailand where we get the chance to see some recognisable faces in action.
The main event here will see former WBO Bantamweight champion Pungluang Sor Singyu (49-3, 33) defending his WBO Asia Pacific title against former world title challenger Nouldy Manakane (29-16-1, 18). Pungluang, best known for being stopped by Tomoki Kameda, will be seeking his 4th straight win and shouldn't really struggle here against a man who is 0-6 in Thailand and a long way removed from his WBA Bantamweight title fight with Koki Kameda, back in 2012. Incidentally it's thought that if Pungluang gets through this he may get a chance to recapture his old title with a bout against Ryo Akaho looking very possible for later in the year.
In the co-feature fans will see 2-time world title challenger Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (53-2, 34) in action against Indonesian visitor Yakobus Heluka (8-10, 1) in what should be little more than a tune up bout for the talented Chonlatarn. Although the Thai was made to look absolutely terrible by Vasyl Lomachenko last year he is a capable fighter and this really does have “ugly mismatch” written all over it.
(Image courtesy of http://www.watanabegym.com)
This year has been slow however we do see life and this Saturday sees a lot of interesting action. We have a brilliant bout in Japan, we have a notable prospect in the Philippines and two brilliant Chinese debutants in the US. What more could we want?
The first major bout in Japan this year comes this Saturday on a card that we have been excited about since it was first announced, and we won't pretend that the main event didn't make our hearts race when when we first learned of it.
We might as well start with that aforementioned main event which will see the unbeaten Jomthong Chuwatana (8-0, 4) defending his OPBF Super Featherweight title against former world title challenger Daiki Kaneko (21-3-3, 14). The bout is between two of the division's most talented, strong and naturally powerful fighters and is almost certainly going to be a highly skilled battle of power. Going into the bout it's a hard one to call. Kaneko is the home fighter and has been more active as a boxer recently however Jomgthong hasn't allowed rust to build up despite 1 boxing contest in the last 21 months due to the fact he has been active in Muay Thai, where he has an exceptional record. The winner of this deserves a world title fight and we'd not be massively shocked if the winner here got a shot at any of the current world champions, including Takashi Uchiyama and Takashi Miura. This really is as good a bout as you can get in the Super Featherweight division, barring unification bouts.
As well as the brilliant main event there is also a pair of notable All-Japanese Middleweight bouts on the card. For us the most interesting of those is the bout between the heavy handed Shoma Fukumoto (5-1, 5) and Kazuyuki Fukuyama (9-5, 2). Fukumoto is regarded as a potential national champion though there are questions about his chin. Those questions are unlikely to be asked by Fukuyama however we may see Fukumoto's stamina being given a test here.
The other Middleweight bout will see former Japanese champion Tomohiro Ebisu (12-4, 12) put his “stop or be stopped” reputation on the line as he battles the chinny Tatsuro Kawabata (6-5, 2). It's hard to see Ebisu losing here though he has lost 2 of his last 3 and there are serious worries about his chin and defences.
Another fighter on this card worth making a note of is Naoki Mochizuki (5-1, 4) who will be fighting against the more experienced Takuma Okada (5-9, 2). Mochizuki's sole loss came to the very good Sonin Nihei and it's fair to say the 20 year old puncher is worth keeping tabs on even if he's not going to be on the fast track to the top.
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
It's not just Japanese fans who get a show on their doorstep as Filipino fans also get the chance to go and see live fights as SANMAN Promotions put on a small but interesting card.
The main event here will see the much touted Harmonito Dela Torre (14-0, 9) battle against JR Mendoza (10-17, 4) in what looks to be stay busy fight for the talented 20 year old prospect. We'll admit we do like Dela Torre, a lot, but this bout is a big step backwards compared to some of his other recent bouts and it's a bit of a shame he's not being moved forward with his career.
In the co-feature fans will see Ronie Tanallon (4-1-1, 1) up against the highly experienced Jonathan Ricablanca (7-45-2, 1) in what appears to be another mismatch, however this should be a more competitive bout that the main event.
Chinese fans will also have something to look forward to as two former Chinese amateur stand outs will be making their professional boxing debuts.
One of those men will be Wang Zhimin (0-0), who has yet to have his opponent named, whilst the other is Meng Fanlong (0-0) who will be fighting against the win-less Marcellus Yates (0-1) in what appears to be an easy start to his career.
District of Columbia, USA
Also in the US fans will get the chance to see Uzbekistan's limited Middleweight Rahman Mustafa Yusubov (11-19, 9) battle against Demond Nicholson (10-1, 10). Yusubov has lost his last 4 bouts however Nicholson was upset last time out in a contest he was expected to win and it may be that his confidence is now shot. Yusubov will be the clear under-dog though hopefully he will go for the win rather than turn up just to lose.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
It's been a while since we, boxing fans, have had the honour and delight of watching Thailand's Jomthong Chuwatana (7-0, 4). Despite having been the OPBF champion at 130lbs for over 2 years he has been chronically inactive on recent times. That's partly due to his high standing in Muay Thai, where he remains active, and partly due to a lack of serious offers to fight the dangerous and heavy handed Thai. Thankfully today he returns to take on Japan's little known Koseki Nakama (17-4, 8). Nakama, a Okinawa native native, has never really been able to make a mark in the world of boxing, barring a shock victory over Antonio Cermeno almost 9 years ago. Since then he has struggled through much of his career and will be expected to struggle again here, in fact in all honesty we'll suspect that he gets stopped against the very good Jomthong.
Whilst the main event is the very welcome return of Jomthong the co-feature is also a notable contest due to one man, Go Onaga (21-2-2, 15). Onaga, a fighter from the Ohashi gym, is a 2-time Japanese title challenger and world ranked fighter and will be hoping to work his way towards another title fight. Before he gets a chance to fight for a belt he will be heeding to over-come experienced but limited Thai Samransak Singmanasak (35-23-1, 27) in what appears to be little more than a stay busy fight for the talented Japanese fighter who hasn't fought since October 2013.
In another of the support bouts we get an all OPBF ranked bout as #13 ranked Featherweight Masatoshi Kotani (14-2, 11) battles against #2 ranked Super Featherweight Edgar Gabejan (26-29-6, 8). Kotani, of Japan, has won his last 4 bouts and 10 or his last 11 suggesting that he's in good form though his ins have mostly come against abject opponents. Strangely Gabejan has a completely different record full of losses though has mixed with numerous well known fighters and lost to them. On paper this looks like a complete mismatch but in all honesty we feel it's very much a 50-50 contest and a well made bout despite the records.
Another 8 rounder on the card will see Dado Cabintoy (13-4-2, 7) taking on Yuta Sasaki (6-4, 1). This is another bout that should be interesting even if the fighters involved aren't world class.
As well as the 4 bouts mentioned the show will feature a further 3 contests.
(Image courtesy of Okinawa World Ring)